Certain Bakeries Engaging in Profiteering Practices – Council
September 18, 2022
The Consumer Council of Fiji (CCoF) has referred several bakeries to relevant enforcement authorities over the past few months for the continuous breach of consumer protection laws which subjects consumers to unfair market practices. There has been a 24% increase in complaints against bakeries in the first 8 months of 2022 compared to the same period last year. Out of the total complaints registered against bakeries in this highlighted period, a bulk of complaints were directly relating to violations of price control order on price-controlled bread; quality and issues pertaining to bread.
Whilst there are legislations and policies already in place which clearly outlines the standards and practices which food establishments such as bakeries must adhere to CCoF Chief Executive Officer Ms Seema Shandil says consumer complaints and subsequent investigations have revealed that bakeries are playing ‘fast and loose’ with the laws in place. This has triggered a nationwide survey which was conducted this week involving 46 bakeries.
“One of the major concerns is the breach of price control order by certain bakeries which comprised 31% of complaints lodged. The Council has thoroughly investigated these complaints and ensured that the concerned bakeries immediately amended the prices in line with the authorized prices. Our recent follow up survey revealed that majority of the bakeries had taken heed of the caution issued and amended the prices in line with the Order ,” said Ms Shandil.
Another 4% of cases were pertaining to certain bakeries not retailing bread which are under price control. This was further substantiated by the Council’s survey which revealed that 37% of bakeries did not retail at least one type of price-controlled bread. This is worrisome as the price control on certain types of bread serves a purpose; it ensures that ordinary people are able to afford it.
A further 28% of complaints lodged were relating to the quality of bread with issues such as sale of stale bread, fungal/mold growth and foreign materials such as rat droppings, cockroaches, lizards in bread.
“The very fact that pest and waste materials are being baked together with bread is baffling and indicative of not only a lack of quality control mechanisms but sheer carelessness and money-making attitude of certain establishments. This level of compromise in food safety will not be accepted and bakeries need to get their acts straight right away,” added Ms Shandil.
Consumers have also raised their concerns regarding the unhygienic condition of certain bakeries with staff not wearing PPE’s, presence of pests and pets in bakeries and dirty floor/surrounding – making up 3% of the complaints lodged. Conversely, the Council’s survey has revealed that 59% of the bakeries had serious hygiene issues and are in breach of the Food Safety regulation.
Given the high number of bakeries with serious hygiene issues, the Council is reminding bakeries to immediately get their acts straight and comply with the Food Safety regulations. The Council will push for fines and penalties for bakeries which are still non-compliant.
Further findings of the survey revealed that 5 bakeries were asking consumers to bring their own plastic bags to carry bread which they purchase. However, the Council has issued warning letters and the bakeries in question are now availing bags for consumers.
“We are reassuring consumers that the Council will work closely with relevant enforcement agencies to iron out these issues and continuously push for stringent enforcement actions against bakeries which are not showing any signs of improvements,” added Ms Shandil.
Consumers who come across similar issues in bakeries are encouraged to contact the Council on toll-free number 155 or lodge a complaint using the Consumer Council of Fiji mobile app. Alternatively, consumers can lodge complaints using the complaints portal on consumersfiji.org or email email@example.com